VBT – Meditation 86.3

Have You Known Yourself?

In the Upanishads there is a story. Svetaketu, a young boy, came back from his master to his home.

He had passed all his examinations, and he had passed well. All that the master could give him, he had collected. He had become very egoistic.

When he reached his father’s house, the first thing the father asked Svetaketu was this: ‘You seem to be too filled with knowledge, and your knowledge is making you very egoistic – the way you walk, the way you have entered the house. I have only one question to ask you. Have you known that who knows all? Have you known that by knowing which everything is known? Have you known yourself?’

Svetaketu said, ‘But there was no course for it in the school, and the master never discussed it. I have known everything that can be known. You ask me anything and I will answer you. But what type of question are you raising? It was never discussed.’

The father said, ‘Then you go back, and unless you know that by knowing which everything is known, and without knowing which nothing is known, don’t come back. First know yourself.’

Svetaketu went back. He asked the master, ‘My father says I cannot be allowed to go back home, I cannot be welcomed there, because he says that in our family we have been Brahmins not only by birth. We have been knowers, knowers of Brahma, Brahmins, not only by birth but by real authentic knowledge. So he said, “Unless you become a real Brahmin, not by birth, but by knowing the Brahma, by knowing the ultimate, don’t enter the house. You are not worthy of us.” So now teach me that.’

The teacher said, ‘All that can be taught I have taught you. And that is something which cannot be taught. So you do one thing: you simply be available for it. It cannot be directly taught. You simply be receptive; some day it will happen. You take all the cows of the ashram…’ The ashram had many cows; they say four hundred. ‘You take all the cows to the forest. Remain with the cows: stop thinking, stop verbalizing, just become a cow. Remain with the cows, love them, and be silent as cows are silent. When the cows become one thousand, come back.’

So Svetaketu went with four hundred cows to the forest. There was no use in thinking, there was no one to talk to. By and by his mind became just like a cow. He sat silently under the trees, and for many years he had to wait, because only when the cows became one thousand could he come back. By and by language disappeared from his mind. By and by society disappeared from his mind. By and by he became not a human being at all. His eyes became just like cows’.

And the story is very beautiful. The story says he forgot how to count – because if language disappears and verbalizations disappear…. He forgot how to count, he forgot when he had to return. The story is beautiful. The cows said, ‘Svetaketu, now we are one thousand. Now let us go back to the master’s house. He must be waiting.’

Svetaketu came back, and the master said to the other disciples, ‘Count the cows.’

The cows were counted and the disciples said, ‘Yes, there are one thousand cows.’

And the master is reported to have said, ‘Not one thousand, one thousand and one – that’s Svetaketu.’

He was standing amidst the cows, silent, just being there, with no thought, with no mind. Just like a cow – pure, simple, innocent. And the master said, ‘You need not enter. Now go back to your father’s house. You have known; it has happened to you. Why have you come again to me? It has happened to you.’

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